I can’t see this rider’s leg because of the standard and the darkness of the photo, but from the shin down, it appears to be a very good calf that is in contact with her horse’s side. The leg looks tight, and the rider looks in balance with him.
Her base of support is all right. She’s been tossed out of the saddle the right amount, and there are no signs that she is jumping ahead or dropping back. Her posture is excellent with her eyes up and ahead. This is a very typical long crest release, which is not just a modern, fashionable technique that I developed. Some criticize that it is being used rampantly these days, but it has been used throughout time and serves to give the horse maximum freedom and hold the rider’s body forward. It’s just that in the old days, people used the automatic release more.
I can’t see this horse’s face or body too well. He doesn’t appear to have a good front end. His knees are up and parallel to the ground, but he’s very loose in front and his topline is very flat. It’s a low jump, and he’s got enough thrust and scope to just step over it and fling up his front end. He doesn’t really have to jump or use himself. Maybe over a bigger jump, he’d look better.
The turnout is OK, but his mane is flying around. The baby pad looks clean, but the rider is carrying a light-colored whip, which is distracting. Usually I like darker, more conservative colors for whips, but that’s her preference. It would not be appropriate in the hunter or equitation ring. The rest of her tack looks clean and well-cared for. I’d prefer to see her wearing a choker, which looks neater.
This article originally appeared in the February 2016 issue of Practical Horseman.